For a long while I had assumed our neighbor was a television addict. At all hours of the day, day or night, I could hear the audible jingles of toilet paper advertisements and theme songs of syndicated shows. It was only a little while later that while chatting they mentioned they would leave the telly and lights on for their pup while they were away for work, the thought being the dog would find solace in having some audio/visual stimulus during the lonely hours (us pet owners tend to be wracked by guilt when we leave our lil' friends at home).
The closest we've resorted to this idea was putting the lights on timer (for safety reasons also) and putting out some extra empty cardboard boxes for our cats to play around and within, but not the TV. Cats tend to be easy that way, but dogs might require a bit more "away time" care. We also tend to unplug and disconnect everything around the house if we're away, partially to prevent excess energy use (remember, even when appliances are "off" or in standbye mode, they use energy), but also because we once returned home to find our cat had accidentally switched on the kitchen sink faucet and flooding our floors. So everything is turned off and put away while we're away! Thank goodness we now work from home so we can keep them company and also an eye on their mischievous ways.
[Creative Commons Photo: ashe-villain]